Mercedes-Benz started testing out a new car sharing service in December of last year, debuting Croove in a limited pilot allowing people to rent out their cars on-demand for short stints in Munich. The program has proven successful enough for Mercedes to expand it to other German cities, including Berlin, where it began operations in mid-April.
The Daimler-owned car brand’s program is very similar to competitors like Turo, since it connects users with vehicles owned by private individuals, rather than giving them access to vehicles owned by a single fleet operator, like Daimler’s other car sharing venture car2go, which offers short-term, one-way rentals of Smart cars and select Mercedes-Benz vehicles.
Croove’s peer-to-peer model means you get a relatively spread out selection of pick-up points to choose from, though you have to return the vehicle to its origin. There’s also a paid delivery option, if you want the car to come to you, and while the service currently relies on a key hand-off, Daimler plans to eventually introduce keyless entry options to Croove. The service lets users set their own price, or trust Croove’s discretion to establish a fair rate, taking into account supply and demand. Croove is also open to all vehicle makes and models.
The Croove experiment was a product of Mercedes-Benz’s CASE unit, which is basically a skunkworks for connected, autonomous, mobility services and electric technology projects. Its expansion to other German metropolitan areas in effect signifies its graduation to a proper company, which should mean it’ll its budget and product develop efforts grow considerably as well.
Among major car brands, Daimler’s exploration of mobility services might be the most far-ranging. Car2go was early relative to many of its big brand peers, and the German company also acquires stakes in both myTaxi and Hailo before combining the companies into one ride-hailing endeavor.